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When it was announced in March that Georges St-Pierre had signed an endorsement deal with Gatorade Canada, observers pegged it as a major step forward in MMA's "mainstream" market acceptance. As with Caol Uno and his Nike sponsorship in Japan, though, it didn't feel all that tangible to U.S. fans. (Let's face it: We're an insulated, self-involved culture. If it's not happening here, it's not happening.)
But if you are willing to crack open the new issue of Rolling Stone -- and can suffer the indignity of buying a magazine with a Jonas brothers cover -- you might be pleased to see a two-page spread for Gatorade's "G" campaign featuring St-Pierre decked out in green trunks. He's not identified by name, but it's an obvious signal that blue-chip companies are willing to acknowledge the sport's sizable influence and its ability to arrest the attention of key demographics.
"Georges' relationship with Gatorade has recently expanded into the U.S., where he will be featured in a national print campaign launching July 1 that includes Rolling Stone and outdoor advertising in the New York City and Los Angeles markets," St-Pierre's manager, Shari L. Spencer, told ESPN.com. "We're excited that this relationship now reaches his fans in the U.S. as well as in Canada, and we're proud to be part of the Gatorade team."
Why this pleases me, I'm not sure -- probably because St-Pierre, like so many others before him, didn't get into MMA with designs on becoming a spoiled athlete. Considering the faint pulse of the sport at the time of his 2002 debut, it was just as likely he'd soon have to consider an alternative career. That he's now cashing checks based on a love of something he might have done for free? It just seems fair. Take the risk, reap the rewards.